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Posts on ‘September 24th, 2006’

XFN-ASIA: Shell mulling legal options if unable to resolve Sakhalin issue – report

HONG KONG (XFN-ASIA) – Royal Dutch Shell PLC managers are mulling legal options if the company is unable to resolve the Sakhalin-2 project issue with Russian authorities by other means, the Wall Street Journal reported in its online edition, citing people familiar with the matter.

Last week, Russia’s ministry of natural resources pulled a key environmental permit for Shell-led consortium’s oil-and-gas project on Russia’s Sakhalin island.

Work on the project has not stopped, and Shell said it has not been formally notified that the permit has been cancelled.

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The Guardian: Environmentalists back Putin over Shell’s energy permit

· Downing Street and US express concerns
· Report lists mounting problems of gas project

Terry Macalister
Monday September 25, 2006

Britain has raised concerns with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, over last week’s withdrawal of Shell’s permit to develop the $20bn (£10bn) Sakhalin-2 energy project, suggesting the move could spark a diplomatic row.

Approval by the Russian natural resources ministry for Shell’s liquefied natural gas project on Sakhalin island, in the far east of the country, was abruptly withdrawn last Monday on environmental grounds. A Downing Street spokesperson said yesterday: “The government is raising its concerns about the decision with the Russian government. Downing Street is following this very closely.”

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The New York Times: Putin tries to quell concern over business maneuvers

By Ariane Bernard
Published: September 24, 2006
 
PARIS France, Germany and Russia met during the weekend, discussing a number of contentious business topics as Russia tried to quiet European unease over its investment in the European aerospace consortium EADS and play down recent problems with Western oil companies operating in Russia.
 
President Vladimir Putin of Russia met with President Jacques Chirac of France in bilateral meetings on Friday evening, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany joined the two on Saturday for talks at a castle north of Paris.
 
“Concerning the acquisition of a 5 percent stake, I can appease you all by telling you it is not at all the sign of an aggressive behavior on the part of Russian partners,” Putin said Saturday. “We will not use this stake to change in any way the institutional situation of EADS.”
 
Earlier this month, a Russian state- controlled bank bought a 5.02 percent stake in EADS, the parent company of Airbus, and Russian officials indicated then that the government hoped to increase its stake. But EADS and Thierry Breton, the French finance minister, subsequently rebuffed speculation that Russia might gain a position on the board of the European consortium.
 
The Russian government is also squabbling with the French oil giant Total over the Kharyaga oil field in Northern Russia, with the authorities indicating that Total may lose its license, although Putin told reporters in Paris on Friday that “the rumors” about Total losing its license in Kharyaga “were greatly exaggerated.”
 
An Élysée Palace spokesman indicated that Putin’s reassurances were considered solid guarantees for France’s investments in Russia.
 
Dissent has grown in recent months between the Russian authorities and Western oil companies, among them Royal Dutch Shell and Texas-based ExxonMobil, as Russia is disputing some of its production-sharing agreements that were entered in the early 1990s at a time when oil prices were low and Russia lacked the investment capability to exploit its resources on its own.
 
On Friday, Russia announced that it had granted a license to the Russian group Rosneft to exploit an oil field adjacent to ExxonMobil’s Sakhalin-1 site in Eastern Russia, despite Exxon’s filing for the field on the basis that the company considered that it fell within its licensed area. Putin did not publicly address the disagreements over Exxon’s claims or Shell’s recently losing a license to carry out work at the Sakhalin-2 site.
 
Instead, Putin reassured Western countries that he appreciated the co-dependent nature of energy suppliers and consumers. He also indicated that it was “very much a possibility” that some oil resources be redirected to Europe.
 
Merkel insisted on the need for “reliable partners,” between Europe and Russia, in energy matters. The European Union has sought without success since 2000 to install an energy charter treaty on energy with Russia, an arrangement that would open its market and ensure stability in fossil fuel supplies to Europe.
 
Putin also announced that he had signed on Friday two “memoranda of understanding,” which act as blueprints for potential contracts, representing more than $10 billion.
 
One of the agreements, entered between the Russian Transportation Ministry and the French construction giant Vinci, concerns plans for a highway between Moscow and St. Petersburg. The other memorandum, between the Russian and French transportation ministries, look at possible cooperation on railroad, transportation and infrastructure in Russia, the Élysée said.
 
In addition to business matters, the three countries discussed current diplomatic issues, and Putin said on Saturday that Russia was ready to send “a small deployment of Russian military engineers” to Lebanon.
 
 PARIS France, Germany and Russia met during the weekend, discussing a number of contentious business topics as Russia tried to quiet European unease over its investment in the European aerospace consortium EADS and play down recent problems with Western oil companies operating in Russia.
 
President Vladimir Putin of Russia met with President Jacques Chirac of France in bilateral meetings on Friday evening, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany joined the two on Saturday for talks at a castle north of Paris.
 
“Concerning the acquisition of a
5 percent stake, I can appease you all by telling you it is not at all the sign of an aggressive behavior on the part of Russian partners,” Putin said Saturday. “We will not use this stake to change in any way the institutional situation of EADS.”
 
Earlier this month, a Russian state- controlled bank bought a 5.02 percent stake in EADS, the parent company of Airbus, and Russian officials indicated then that the government hoped to increase its stake. But EADS and Thierry Breton, the French finance minister, subsequently rebuffed speculation that Russia might gain a position on the board of the European consortium.
 
The Russian government is also squabbling with the French oil giant Total over the Kharyaga oil field in Northern Russia, with the authorities indicating that Total may lose its license, although Putin told reporters in Paris on Friday that “the rumors” about Total losing its license in Kharyaga “were greatly exaggerated.”
 
An Élysée Palace spokesman indicated that Putin’s reassurances were considered solid guarantees for France’s investments in Russia.
 
Dissent has grown in recent months between the Russian authorities and Western oil companies, among them Royal Dutch Shell and Texas-based ExxonMobil, as Russia is disputing some of its production-sharing agreements that were entered in the early 1990s at a time when oil prices were low and Russia lacked the investment capability to exploit its resources on its own.
 
On Friday, Russia announced that it had granted a license to the Russian group Rosneft to exploit an oil field adjacent to ExxonMobil’s Sakhalin-1 site in Eastern Russia, despite Exxon’s filing for the field on the basis that the company considered that it fell within its licensed area. Putin did not publicly address the disagreements over Exxon’s claims or Shell’s recently losing a license to carry out work at the Sakhalin-2 site.
 
Instead, Putin reassured Western countries that he appreciated the co-dependent nature of energy suppliers and consumers. He also indicated that it was “very much a possibility” that some oil resources be redirected to Europe.
 
Merkel insisted on the need for “reliable partners,” between Europe and Russia, in energy matters. The European Union has sought without success since 2000 to install an energy charter treaty on energy with Russia, an arrangement that would open its market and ensure stability in fossil fuel supplies to Europe.
 
Putin also announced that he had signed on Friday two “memoranda of understanding,” which act as blueprints for potential contracts, representing more than $10 billion.
 
One of the agreements, entered between the Russian Transportation Ministry and the French construction giant Vinci, concerns plans for a highway between Moscow and St. Petersburg. The other memorandum, between the Russian and French transportation ministries, look at possible cooperation on railroad, transportation and infrastructure in Russia, the Élysée said.
 
In addition to business matters, the three countries discussed current diplomatic issues, and Putin said on Saturday that Russia was ready to send “a small deployment of Russian military engineers” to Lebanon. 

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The Moscow Times: Rosneft to Win License

Monday, September 25, 2006. Issue 3504. Page 6.

Rosneft will win a license to explore for oil and gas at an offshore area bordering ExxonMobil’s Sakhalin-1 project in the Pacific Ocean.

Rosneft was the only company to apply by the Sept. 14 deadline to take part in a planned auction of the license for the Lebedinsky field, Nikolai Gudkov, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Ministry, said Friday by telephone. That means the auction will be canceled and the license awarded to Rosneft, he said. (Bloomberg)

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Irish Times: Shell open to new talks on pipeline

By: Tim O’Brien,
Published: Sep 23, 2006

Shell E&P Ireland, which is developing the Corrib Gas project, has in the last few days invited the principal opponents of the project to new talks.

Shell E&P managing director Andy Pyle said yesterday that the company had written to Dr Mark Garavan, of the Shell to Sea campaign, seeking dialogue on a new route for the onshore pipeline. The company is planning to resume work on the Bellanaboy terminal site as early as next week.

Mr Pyle said that the company had “no intention of getting involved in any civil actions” against protesters and he hoped that any protests “would be peaceful”.

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Financial Times: Threat to Sakhalin-2 shakes confidence, warns Beckett

By Arkady Ostrovsky in Moscow, David Wighton in New York and Ed,Crooks in London

Published: September 23 2006 03:00 | Last updated: September 23 2006 03:00

Margaret Beckett, the UK foreign secretary, has warned that Russia’s threat to the future of the Sakhalin-2 project run by Royal Dutch Shell was the sort of move that “shakes confidence in foreign investors”.

She told the Financial Times she had raised the issue with Russia’s foreign minister at the UN meeting in New York this week.

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Itar-Tass: Russia’s partners in Sakhalin-2 should fulfill obligations – FM

Sakhalin II

24.09.2006
 
UNITED NATIONS, September 24 (Itar-Tass) – Russia wants its partners in the Sakhalin-2 oil field development project to fulfill their obligations to this project and not violate them, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday.

He pointed out that “many environmental obligations were violated.”

“The initial cost of the project was doubled. Higher the costs, later Russia will be able to get profits from this agreement,” he said.

“Why the incidents on BP’s pipelines that caused global violations of environmental norms were perceived as violation,” he asked. “The suspension of BP’s activities on Alaska raised no question. The same approach should be taken to the situation on Sakhalin,” Lavrov said.

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AFP: Sakhalin dispute risks Russia’s Asian ambitions

Published: Sunday, 24 September, 2006
 
MOSCOW: Russian government pressure on a Shell-led consortium developing vast oil and gas fields in the Pacific Ocean could set back Moscow’s hopes of becoming a key energy exporter to Asia, observers have said.

The possibility that the dispute could delay planned deliveries from the fields to Asia beyond 2008 is “the understatement of the year”, said Adam Landes, energy expert at the Moscow-based Renaissance Capital investment bank.

“To all extents and purposes the project is paralysed by the decision adopted yesterday. What the investors are facing is re-negotiation or paralysis,” Landes said.
On Monday, Russia revoked an environmental permit for the Sakhalin-2 project, halting work on natural gas infrastructure that is a key part of Moscow’s plans to boost oil and gas exports to energy-hungry Asian markets.

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Financial Mail on Sunday: Sad fall for Browne at the last fence

Lisa Buckingham,
24 September 2006

Why Lord Browne fought –unsuccessfully – to stay at the helm of BP long after the company’s compulsory retirement date of 60 is anyone’s guess.

It was an ignominious tussle with his chairman, Peter Sutherland, and one that resulted in him getting only a few months extra in the top job.

But even as unseemly briefings by ‘friends’ of both men were given gleeful coverage in the financial Press, BP appeared to be unravelling faster than a ball of wool in the paws of a kitten.

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Bloomberg: Russia `Long Way From’ Pulling Out of Sakhalin-2, Lavrov Says

By Hannah Gardner

Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) — Russia is not considering pulling out of the Sakhalin-2 project with Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in comments released today.

“We are a long way from backing out of agreements we have reached, no matter how difficult the conditions were when they were agreed to,” Lavrov said yesterday. He made the comments to Russian reporters in New York, according to a statement on the Foreign Ministry’s Web site today.

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The Houston Chronicle: Oil crunch

U.S. Energy Department study concludes crude production will peak, requiring other energy forms

Last September, a Chronicle editorial warned that global oil production would peak in this decade or the next, and then inexorably decline. Given that likelihood, the United States would have to embark on a crash program to develop alternative energy sources or endure crippling increases in the price of energy.

Last week, a study performed for the U.S. Department of Energy concurred with the editorial’s conclusions.

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The Washington Post: Hurricane Chávez: What’s worse for energy security: a natural disaster or a petro-bully?

Sunday, September 24, 2006; B06

HUGO CHAVEZ got the attention that he craves by comparing President Bush to Satan last week. But the Venezuelan leader’s absurd talk may be less threatening than his equally absurd incompetence. Since Mr. Chávez took power seven years ago, Venezuela has mismanaged its oil so disastrously that production may have fallen by almost half, according to the estimates of outsiders, reducing global oil supply by a bit more than 1 percent. Along with natural disasters and Nigerian rebels, Mr. Chávez’s ineptitude has contributed to high energy prices.

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